Socialist Appeal - British section of the International Marxist Tendency: the Marxist voice of labour and youth.
October 28 is a National holiday in Greece marking ΟΧΙ (No) Day – the refusal of Greece in 1940 to accept the Italian ultimatum advanced by Mussolini, to allow the Italian fascist troops to enter the country. Not only did Greek forces stop the Italian invasion, but actually forced Mussolini's troops back into Albania. Every year it is celebrated as a day of “national pride”. Not so this year! The masses took over the celebrations and used them to express their anger at the Greek ruling class. Here we publish a report from Athens written on the day of the “celebrations”

October 28 is a National holiday in Greece marking ΟΧΙ (No) Day – the refusal of Greece in 1940 to accept the Italian ultimatum advanced by Mussolini, to allow the Italian fascist troops to enter the country. Not only did Greek forces stop the Italian invasion, but actually forced Mussolini's troops back into Albania. Every year it is celebrated as a day of “national pride”. Not so this year! The masses took over the celebrations and used them to express their anger at the Greek ruling class. Here we publish a report from Athens written on the day of the “celebrations”.

Syriza banner. Photo: Piazza del PopoloSyriza bannerToday (October 28, 2011) there was an unprecedented phenomenon in Greece. In normal, socially peaceful periods, national anniversaries offer the ruling class a good opportunity to create a climate of “national unity” in order to distract the working masses away from the class-exploitative reality of this society. High-ranking state officials, seated on special platforms that are above the “common people” enjoy their “official” status and give banal speeches alongside the parade, symbolising the allegiance to power. But today, there was nothing of the typical national anniversary.

In most cities from Crete to Evros, the “ritual” changed dramatically. Instead of peaceful home-owners filled with national pride, we saw ordinary people of all ages expressing their revolutionary anger against the political crooks who legislate on the destruction of their living standards. Instead of proud “officials” greeting the crowds, we saw very little people, uncomfortable in their suits, being whisked away by their bodyguards and giving up their seats in the stands to angry pensioners, laid-off workers and housewives. Instead of “proud youth” parading in honour of the power of the state, we saw students turning their faces away for the platforms or giving the Greek five-finger gesture to the “officials”, revealing the innate aversion they feel for them.

This spontaneous wave of harassment of ministers and MPs of both PASOK and New Democracy in the parades was repeated throughout the country. There were massive and dynamic protests in Patras, Volos, Rhodes, Trikala, Corfu, Veria, Kalamata, Iraklion, Kozani, Tripoli, Nafplio, Pyrgos, Agios Nikolaos, Rethymno, Serres, Larissa, Piraeus, Athens and, in particular, Thessaloniki. (see Euronews)

In Athens, thousands of demonstrators were violently prevented by the police from approaching the venue of the parade, while many students marched with black armbands. But where the protests reached their highest point was in the city of Thessaloniki. Thirty thousand Thessalonikians, spontaneously marched in a protest that drove away the government and state officials (among them the President of Greece himself), took over the podium and imposed for the first time in history the cancellation of a military parade in the city, surrounding the military contingent and taking control of the ceremony, wiping out any traces of the ruling class in the ceremony by doing so!

Commentators in the bourgeois media and the apologists of the government since the early morning mounted a provocative and hypocritical campaign of defamation of the spontaneous expression of popular anger, denouncing it as an act of disrespect towards the nation and its institutions, particularly complaining about the expulsion of the President of Greece from the parade in Thessaloniki, as a gesture of “attack against democracy”. For these gentlemen in smart suits and ties and ladies in expensive dresses, “respect for democracy” means the quiet subjugation of the masses to the appetites of a handful of foreign and local usurers and respect for their political representatives, who enjoy privileges and power while the people become poorer.

The angry masses spontaneously expelled the politicians from the parades and did not hesitate to call them “traitors”. The fact that this characterisation of “traitor” [in the nationalist sense of the word] is often used by many ultra-patriotic bourgeois and petty demagogues, from the far right and LAOS to the fringes of the Left, to describe as “nationalist” the class nature of the attacks on workers, should not distract us from its real meaning. This term is perfectly justified when used by ordinary people. Indeed, the bourgeois politicians have made a profession of betraying the interests of working people, with all its accessories such as civil fraud and shameless lies.

What we saw taking place in today’s celebrations of October 28th was not “lawlessness” or chaos, as the screaming apologists of the establishment suggest. It marks the unfolding of a progressive process; the spontaneous, sudden and massive vote of no-confidence of the masses in the political crooks who have ruled over them for decades. This process in fact lays the foundation for the building of a revolutionary consciousness.

So what eloquently reflects today's historic events is the rapid transformation of the widespread anger of the people into a revolutionary mood, which has defiled the “sacred” figures of the bourgeois regime and which has paralysed Greek capitalism and its state apparatus through a series of general and sectoral long-lasting strikes, the occupation ministries and key government buildings and the transformation of the official state ceremonies into moments of class protest.

The complaints of “reputable” commentators on the evening news about the “slide of the country into chaos”, “unsafe streets” and even the “opening of the gates of hell”, all express the terror of the ruling class in the face of the revolutionary implications that flow from the crisis of their system. This fear of the ruling class as it feels threatened by the revolutionary mood that has developed within the working people and youth, is confirmed by all the reports of spontaneous outbursts against this popular anger towards a wide range of council leaders and apologists of capitalism, by television commentators, the government, local mayors and prefects, the ND, LAOS, the "Public Alliance" (the party of Dora Bakoyianni) and – oh, what a surprise – the supposed left leadership of the “Democratic Left” (the recent right-wing split from the Synaspismos).

In a state of delirium produced by their terror, the bourgeoisie once again is looking for “provocateurs” within the ranks of the Left and especially SYRIZA [the electoral front based on the Synaspismos]. The truth is that the leaders of the Left, are mere observers of this growing revolutionary mood of the masses. Instead of trying to influence and direct the struggle politically in the direction of socialism, they simply limit themselves to flattering the masses in a cowardly manner, because they realise that sooner or later they can be pushed violently to power. This is proof of the fact that the left leaders are not moving towards the limits of an alleged extremism, as they are accused of doing by the ruling class, but rather they are moving in the opposite direction, using empty anti-neoliberal rhetoric with talk of  some vague roads to “socialism” in some distant indeterminate future. They do not have a visible power solution for the masses and do not wish to develop a programme of revolutionary struggle capable of giving vent to the militant mood of millions of people determined to fight.

But is it really time for a revolution, the sceptics will ask. The Marxists respond with a clear and loud YES! The broad masses of the people are clearly showing that they want to fight. The 15 successive general strikes of the last eighteen months, the huge wave of militant labour rallies – especially the most recent of 19-20 October, the scores of other militant long drawn out strikes and occupations in the public sector, combined with the increasing militant mood of the private sector workers, the dynamic youth movement, the mass movement in the squares, the emergence of popular assemblies in dozens of neighbourhoods, and today, with this miraculous transformation of military marches into protest demonstrations all reveal an undeniable truth; the situation is becoming revolutionary.

But the unborn revolution in order to be victorious, rather than political tail-ending and dismayed flatterers, requires a revolutionary leadership that can offer a socialist programme and an immediate prospect of power. Thus the struggle for the creation of such a leadership is the duty of every left fighter today and especially the militants who belong to the Left parties, in which increasingly rebellious proletarians and many young people are beginning now to place their hopes, namely the Communist Party and Synaspismos with its allies in SYRIZA. Only a popular and united Left around the programme of socialism can give expression to the impetuous revolutionary mood of the people that is paralysing the bourgeois regime, has profaned the rituals of the state and which has spread terror in the ruling class.

Source: Μαρξιστική Φωνή (Greece)